American Visiting Institute for Chinese Entrepreneurs

Jul 18, 2013

A group of 12 Chinese business leaders traveled to South Dakota for the American Visiting Institute for Chinese Entrepreneurs. The University of South Dakota hosts the event as a way to build a bridge between South Dakota and China. Learn about how these business leaders spent their time visiting the state and learning about American business.

The music can be heard from outside the building as a group of Chinese business leaders celebrate their trip to South Dakota. A live country band plays while people dance.  I was amazed watching these people dance. They were doing these complicated dance moves that I had never even seen before. Let’s just say I was impressed and glad I wasn’t out there dancing.
During that social hour I spoke with some of the business leaders from China.  We spoke through a translator.
Throughout their four day stay the group traveled to Yankton and Sioux Falls to tour businesses and to have some fun. In Yankton, the group went trap shooting – many for the first time.
“They learned. They only have the bow- the shooting things. They learned,” says one of the translators.

So the Chinese visitors had never done this before?

“Yeah, never do that in China,” replies the translator.
Since private citizens of China are not allowed to own a gun, many of the business leaders had never shot one or even held a gun before.
Besides fun and new experiences – Why visit South Dakota for business education?

“Because I think that South Dakota is a place where it can authentically represent American culture, American people, and American philosophy,” says Professor Bingquan Lu.

Professor Bingquan Lu is the man in charge of bringing the group of business leaders to U-S-D. Lu says he wants to create a mutual understanding of the two cultures and make use of the education platform at U-S-D as well as show off the state. 

The group also talked with businessman Steve Kirby.  Kirby is a founding partner of Bluestem, a private equity firm based out of Sioux Falls. He says his company fulfills the entrepreneur dream. He says the group is intrigued by the overall investment environment in America.

“They’re a very, very curious group which I deeply respect because they want to improve themselves they want to understand what we do, the way we do things. How they could take some of that back to China and improve their lives,” says Kirby.
After attending lectures, tours and participating in activities the group is ready to graduate.
U-S-D Provost Chuck Staben says the graduates are honored in a very special way.
“We will hood our graduates in the Masters style to recognize their mastery not only of what they studied here, but their mastery of business in their professional lives.  Each graduate will receive a certificate signed by President Abbott, by me and by Governor Daugaard on behalf of U-S-D and the state of South Dakota,” says Staben.
Governor Daugaard was on hand to thank the group for investing in South Dakota. 
“It is good for China and South Dakota to develop business relationships. However, it wasn’t really until I traveled to China as a part of our trade missions that I fully appreciated the opportunities that we have to work together. I have now, as I said, visited China twice for trade missions. And thanks to Dr. Lu and others in China, I realized what great opportunities there are for partnerships and international trade,” says Daugaard.
Governor Daugaard says China is the state’s third largest trading partner and South Dakota sends over 100 million dollars in goods to China each year.
Junzhong Hao is a member of the Chinese delegation and says the business leaders learned a lot from the event.
“They are very grand to see the environment of USD and they are very appreciative for this graduation. They’re very appreciated. Thanks for everything,” says Hao through a translator.
As a sign of thanks between the Chinese and South Dakota leaders, gifts were exchanged.
Followed by a training by Professor Lu on how to bow properly. 
“In China when we bow, we only need to bow once, not three times. Because if we bow three times that means we are ascending that person off to Heaven,” says Lu.

Another form of respect is shown by putting your hands together in a fist.

“When we are greeted with a fist like this, it is to show that we are respecting that person as a friend and also that we are show- it is a friendly respect to that person,” says Lu.

Nearly half of the Chinese group was left behind in China because their visas had been denied.  Professor Lu says he plans on bringing them in the future and hopes to make at least eight more trips to South Dakota.  The business leaders plan on meeting with other Chinese entrepreneurs to teach them about South Dakota and American business.